Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Queen of Puddings

When I was writing yesterday about boarding school food I found myself remembering with delight the wonderful school puddings that nobody eats any more. All the chocolate stodge and custard, the lemon steamed puddings, the rice puddings… And oh god the sago, let’s not go there, and the semolina and the tapioca, only made palatable by the jam.

Queen of Puddings was a majestic dish. Served as they all were in dishes large enough to feed at least eight Queen’s Pud was a cut above the others. I recalled it as a soft custardy base with jam and meringue on top, the jam hot enough to burn your mouth under the crunching quaking meringue. I thought it might be nice to make one to see if it was as special as I remembered.

Apparently this pudding was developed from a 17th Century recipe by Queen Victoria’s chefs at Buckingham Palace – hence the name. Some recipes flavour the custard base with lemon and vanilla, which sounds about right, but I’m absolutely certain nobody wasted good vanilla on lumpy eleven year olds, so mine is made, as ours was, sans vanilla. It would of course be easy to posh up, with cream and vanilla seeds and brioche, but that was not my experience, and actually it’s quite delicious without any of that fancy stuff. Gave me a new respect for dinner ladies too.


7 ozs /200 g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tbsp sugar
zest of a lemon
1 pint/600 ml milk
2 ozs/50 g butter
4 eggs, separated
4 tbsp raspberry jam, warmed
2 ozs/50 g caster sugar


Heat oven to 180 °C / 350 °F / Gas 4. Place the breadcrumbs, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl. Scald the milk and butter and remove from heat. Stir in the breadcrumbs and leave for 10 minutes. Beat the egg yolks and add to the breadcrumbs. Grease an ovenproof serving dish which will hold 2½ pints/1.5 l or six individual ramekins. Pour in the mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave for a few minutes and gently spread the jam over the top (be careful not to break the surface skin). Whisk the egg whites until stiff and slowly fold in the caster sugar reserving 1 teaspoon to the side. Pile the egg whites over the top of the jam, sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar over the top and place back in the oven for 15 minutes until set.

The contrast in textures is wonderful; the crisp outer shell of the meringue hides a soft cloud of interior, the jam sharp and sweet and the base a pillow. It makes you feel loved.


Joanna said...

WONDERFUL - I haven't had that sort of nursery food for years, decades. Your school food was better than mine, though, because I only ever got given Queen of Puddings in the holidays, by my grandmother. Sago and steamed puddings, with a block of vanilla ice-cream and "chocolate goo" on a Sunday for lunch (after the gristle!) ...

Your memories are striking SUCH a chord


June said...

Hi Joanna

And they made us what we are today...!

Ash said...

Hi June

I wondered if you had thought of entering this dish for the English food event happening at Becks & Posh?


Susan in Italy said...

Well heck, your Queen of Pudding looks and sounds a whole lot better than tapioca. We used to call it "fish eyes & glue".

June said...

Ash - thanks for the nudge
Susan - yup, I remember. We used to call it frogspawn.

Jeanne said...

Oh my... this looks like pure indulgence! Will file it away for a day when I feel in need of comfort pudding ;-)

Margaret said...

You can't beat a good old Queen of Puddings!!

Sophie said...

This looks gorgeous - much nicer than the strange cold chocolate flavoured custard we kept getting in school!

Soulknitting said...

Wow! This sounds incredibly delicious!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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